To help parishes on their stimulating commissioning journeys the Church Buildings Council organised in 2012 a prize competition for commissioning new art in parish churches. 11 parishes from a total of 50 applications were shortlisted for the £10,000 prize.
Such was the quality of the submissions the judging panel decided to split the prize between two parishes and dug deep to offer a development grant to a third.
The three prizewinners have kindly agreed to share their experience so that others may learn from their example. Information about the three winners is set out below.
Kirk Sandall & Edenthorpe, Church of the Good Shepherd (Diocese of Sheffield)
The youngest, unlisted building amongst the entries is situated outside Doncaster in an area that suffers from deprivation, high unemployment and industrial decline. The parish really wants to bring hope where there is currently little hope and has engaged in the commissioning process with great determination.
Student involvement has resulted in exciting school projects as well as a community art day giving a sense of focus to all. The resulting commission, a new window, is intended to make the church more welcoming and to enhance its impact on the streetscape.
You can read Kirk Sandall's briefing document here.
Plymouth, St Andrew (Diocese of Exeter)
From being a roofless shell after World War II, this historic Grade I listed church at the heart of Plymouth contains stained glass windows by John Piper. For the competition the parish has explored ways of using a commission externally to enhance newly acquired space in front of the building.
In collaboration with the City's Public Art Officer and with art students the parish engaged in widespread community consultation. Rather than 'simply considering a sculpture on two pillars at the entrance', something more dynamic will emerge.
You can read Plymouth's briefing document here.
Wednesfield Team Ministry (Diocese of Lichfield)
Outside Wolverhampton, this parish of three churches has a varied ethnic and social mix. 18th-century St Thomas is listed Grade II while neither St Chad's nor St Alban's is listed.
A wide range of consultation and children-focused events have led to plans for a commission that will help bring a sense of unity across the parish through some form of portable artwork. Artists would be invited to respond to the vibrant yet dispersed nature of the parish's worshipping community.
You can read Wednesfield's briefing document here.